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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989
VIEIRA, Elisabeth Meloni et al. The use of the female condom by women in Brazil participating in HIV prevention education sessions. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.15, n.6, pp.373-379. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892004000600002.
OBJECTIVES: To study HIV-positive women and women at risk of becoming infected with HIV who attended HIV prevention education group sessions at a university hospital in Bra-zil and to compare the use of the female condom and the male condom by these two groups of women. METHODS: The study subjects were 165 women participating in HIV prevention education group sessions at the Medical School Hospital of Ribeirão Preto of the University of São Paulo, in the city of Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil. Women could be enrolled in the study from August 2000 to June 2001, and the follow-up observation time period was from August 2000 to July 2001. Male condoms and female condoms were freely distributed to all the participants at the end of each educational session and also at the end of each follow-up visit that the participants made. Each woman took part in an initial interview and was asked to return monthly. At each follow-up visit an additional short interview was carried out in order to investigate use of the male condom and of the female condom. Variables that were examined for the study included age, education, ethnic group, marital or relationship status, number of children, the women's use of male condoms and female condoms, commercial sex (whether the women had ever had sex in exchange for money, gifts, or favors), and previous knowledge of the female condom. RESULTS: The 165 women studied fell into the following three categories: 132 of them (80.0%) were HIV-positive, 26 of them (15.8%) had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) other than HIV and did not have an HIV-positive partner, and 7 of them (4.2%) had an HIV-positive partner but did not have HIV or any other STD. The women ranged in age from 15 to 64 years, with a mean of 30.3 years. Of the women in the study, 69.7% of them were married or were cohabitating, and 90.9% of them had a sexual partner. Just over two-thirds of the women had seven years of formal schooling or less. Out of 163 women, a total of 31 of them (19.0%) had never used the male condom with a partner, and 49 of the 163 (30.1%) had not used a male condom at the time of the last sexual intercourse. Out of the 165 women, 74 of them (44.8%) returned for at least one follow-up visit. Of these 74 women, 58 of them (78.3%) reported using the female condom between the initial interview and the first follow-up visit. The majority of the 74 women who returned for a visit liked using the female condom, and the women reported that their partners also generally accepted the female condom. In comparison to women at risk of HIV, HIV-positive women were more likely to have used the male condom with a partner before the initial interview. Women who continued returning over a longer follow-up period were more likely to have used the female condom at the time of the last sexual intercourse. No association was found between female condom use at the time of last sexual intercourse and the woman's HIV infection status. CONCLUSIONS: In comparison to the women at risk of HIV, the HIV-positive women in our study were more likely to use male condoms with their partners, to return for follow-up visits, and to have a longer follow-up period. The acceptance of the female condom among the HIV-positive women in this study, as reported at their first follow-up visit, appears to be similar to the acceptance of the female condom among women in general in Brazil.
Keywords : Condoms [female]; condoms; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; HIV infections; sexually transmitted diseases; safe sex; Brazil.